16 September 2004

Many thanks to those of you who wrote.  I'm glad you're enjoying the story and thank you for taking the time to say so.

Keep your umbrellas handy; it looks like it's going to be a wet week for those of us in the eastern half of the country.  Hurricane season looks like it's making up for lost time this year.  I hope everyone makes out okay.

Kind regards and best wishes for a safe week,

Michael Garrison

Without further ado:  When last we left our heroes...........

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such themes, do not read further and leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story. Reproductions or links to other sites are not allowed without the permission of the author.

Two Lives – Two Loves

Chapter 22

Hollywood’s a weird place. They’d have you believe that diving is all sharks and blood. Even in a quarry like this, as Jon might agree, being the horror film buff that he is, Hollywood would figure out a way to have some sort of bio-engineered mutant snake-from-hell suck a diver down like it was popping a vitamin pill. Trust me; it’s not like that at all.
There’re a lot of words you could use to describe diving, but the one that comes to mind most often is peaceful. It’s just you, your thoughts, your bubbles and your buddy. There’s nothing quite as stimulating as strapping on a tank and feeling wet and weightless, like being an astronaut. It’s an incredible, natural high that just has no equal. Well, that is, except for depending on how close you and your buddy are, you know? Mine was about 5 feet behind me as we made our way down the submerged part of the gravel path leading deeper into the pit.
This was as close as Jon had come to diving in real open water. Not that quarries aren’t open water, you can still get into as much trouble in a flooded quarry as anywhere else, it’s just that they’re a man-made system that occur by accident; kind of like what a lot of mankind does. There’re no waves, no tides, no fish or other wildlife, just lot’s and lots of water. They do usually have the advantage of being very clear and quiet; if that’s what you happen to be looking for. I think Jon and I both needed some clarity and tranquility. This was a perfect way for us to soothe away the vibes from a hectic, unsettling morning.
I took the lead and headed farther down the path. I remembered what Dave from the dive shop had said about abandoned trucks and other stuff being down here. I figured that this was as good a way as any to start looking for them. Of course, if they were at the very bottom, we were probably screwed. I looked out to where the ledge of the road ended a dozen or so yards away and then just fell off into solid blue. Probably 100, 150 feet down and we weren’t going to go there. We didn’t have the air or the gear for any decompression stops. I kept my hopes up anyway, figuring we’d find something. Even if we didn’t, how bad could things be with Jon next to me?
I glanced back occasionally, double-checking to make sure he was still there. He was sticking close and seemed to be completely at ease with it all. He’d taken to diving right away, like he was born to it. I caught a glimpse of his wide, blue eyes behind the mask and they betrayed nothing of the worried guy, curled up in the truck, that he’d been less than an hour ago. He was loving this.
I stopped for a moment, settling on my knees to check our depth and to keep an eye on my little decompression computer. We were at about 30 feet and totally good on time. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something slide past me, almost knocking me over. It was Jon. I didn’t know where he was going and I tried grabbing his leg to slow him down but he was too fast.
He swam towards the edge and turned back towards me, pointing repeatedly over the edge. I didn’t see anything. I shrugged and held up my hands, asking ‘whassup?’. He just kept stabbing his finger at something over the edge of the ledge, waving for me to follow him with his other hand. I started after him but I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for his tastes and he quickly disappeared beneath the ledge. ‘Oh great,’ I thought. I took off after him as fast as my legs could go. He was a natural at this but he still didn’t have much diving experience. He sometimes had a nasty tendency to just jump right into shit without thinking.
When I got to the edge, I looked down to see Jon kneeling on an old construction trailer, holding his hands out as if to say ‘Ta-da’. I could’ve smacked the little shit just then for damn near scaring me out of my wits, but he just felt so infectiously happy that I couldn’t be mad at him.
It proved one thing, though. I was going to have to go get my eyes checked. We’d obviously passed close enough to the trailer for Jon to see it but I completely missed it. I was probably missing more than the trailer these past few days, but fuck it; what’re you going to do? Jon’s little find was kind of cool, though. I don’t know what it was doing there. Someone must’ve just rolled it over the side to get rid of it or something. It was lying on its side, kind of half on, half off another ledge about 10 feet lower than the main path and running parallel to it. I had to guess that they worked in tiers, maybe to keep the main path from collapsing.
Jon waved for me to join him and started to pull at the knob on the door. He finally got it to open but it didn’t yield easily. The hinges on the thing must’ve been solid rust and I could hear them squealing at him with every yank. I got there and helped him finish, pushing it all the way back against the side of the trailer. We both wanted to see what was inside, but I wanted to make sure that the door didn’t accidentally close on us. I was getting used to visiting the spirit world but I was in no way ready to join it yet.
I gave him a pat on the shoulder and a thumbs-up. He was excited and I could see the smile at the corner of his mouthpiece. He motioned grandly for me to enter first, like he was the doorman at the Ritz or something, and I could swear I heard my little inner voice say ‘Age before beauty’. I looked back at him for a second and saw one of his smiling eyes wink at me. I’d get him back later, but now we were explorers of lost tombs, we were adventurers in a great quest for fame and fortune. We were… in the middle of your basically empty construction trailer.
The light that filtered in through the two windows pointing to the surface allowed us to see well enough. An old desk and a couple of chairs had piled up in a heap on the bottom from when the trailer had been shoved over. A bulletin board dangled from the far wall with some waterlogged papers pinned to it. Nothing remarkable; no treasure, unfortunately. It did have kind of a cool fun-house feel to it, though. The frame of the trailer must’ve cracked when they tossed it over because it didn’t look to me like the walls were exactly right. Remember those old deals they had at amusement parks where the walls and floors were all off kilter and you made your way through them like a drunk on a solid bender? That’s what it reminded me of.
There was a smaller back room, probably the office, which Jon made his way for. I couldn’t help but watch his muscles moving slowly and smoothly under the seat of his wetsuit, and I followed him inside, after adjusting my equipment a little.
It was smaller than I thought, enough for one guy to work comfortably, but it was a little snug for two guys in diving gear. I didn’t mind, though; Jon didn’t, either.
He turned and we stared at each other in the dim light. He looked so hot. I explored him with my eyes but I kept coming back to meet his, watching his blond strands flow back and forth around the top of his mask. I wanted to take my knife and cut him out of that wetsuit right then and there and relieve the building pressure beneath my crotch strap. He wouldn’t appreciate that, though, I was pretty sure of that.
I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I’d done a lot of diving, true, but I’d never done it with anyone underwater. This was going to be a first time for both of us and I just froze.
Jon didn’t. He was taking to this as easily as he took to diving itself.
I was surprised, but thankful, when he made the first tentative move, placing his hands on my shoulders, caressing and kneading my own tight muscles. Then, letting his fingers trail down my arms, he took my hands and pulled them to his hips. They felt absolutely rock solid and I pulled him in as close as our gear would allow.
I reached around as far as I could, slowly letting my hands press hard against his cheeks. Jon followed my lead. Tight as he was, his wetsuit made him feel even tighter. It conformed to every fold of his flesh but still kept me from cupping him like I liked to do, massaging him and driving him mad. Still, there was something to this, something about touching each other without being able to really, fully touch that was definitely driving up my blood pressure. I could feel my heart pounding and I was trembling like it was my very first time again.
He nested his face into my neck and I snickered as the exhaust bubbles from his regulator tickled my ear, collecting with mine on the ceiling of the trailer. Jon definitely had a magical touch, letting one hand slowly work my lower back, his other kneading my butt. It felt so damn good, so relaxing. He pulled away from me a little, taking my right hand and pulling it around to him, encouraging me to fondle him.
Wetsuits can be a lot like Speedos. They can hide a lot and nothing, all at the same time. That might not make a lot of sense but I awoke from my near trance and looked down where he was guiding my hand. Jon was telegraphing nicely through his wetsuit. The odd shadows and dappled light in the trailer made his abs seem more pronounced than when he was naked. Maybe it was a trick of the eye, one of those distortion things you experience in the water, but the granite inside that neoprene was no illusion. He moved my hand up and down, begging me. I didn’t need any begging. I wanted him to feel good. Nobody deserved it more than Jon and I ran the palm of my hand over him, trying to wrap my fingers around him as much as his suit would allow. I felt him tremble and buck. I heard him moan. In the back of my head I heard his unintelligible mutterings of approval. He gripped my hand tightly, pressing it harder against his crotch as I worked him back and forth. I loved the sight of his abs expanding and contracting faster, in time with each stroke. It was almost more than I could bear. No, I’m sorry; it was more than I could bear.
I let go of him and pushed his hand aside. Totally on instinct, I grabbed Jon’s butt with both hands, pulling him to me as tight as I could. At that moment, we were one and he ground himself tight against me, letting me feel him next to my own steeliness. We both moaned as we started brushing against each other, then harder, rougher. We drifted onto our sides in a corner of the small room and, despite our fins, our feet found any wall, any surface that we could, pushing hard against them, against each other. I could hear Jon’s tank banging against the outside wall with each of our thrusts. I could hear him in my mind and in my ear as we then found our rhythm together. He moaned and I opened my eyes enough to see his regulator almost fall from his mouth. I let one hand go only long enough to shove it back in before he started gulping water.
We were so very close. Jon was totally in my mind; I could sense everything that he was feeling. I could almost feel myself inside of him, the overwhelming wave of electricity building to wash through him, through both of us.
That’s when we heard it.
That sharp cracking noise, mixed with that unmistakable wrenching sound of nails being pulled from wood. Jon and I stopped dead. I glanced at him and saw that ‘What-the-fuck-was-that?’ look in his eyes, like when he first saw our ghost. We started to move off of each other and heard the noise again, stopping us in our tracks. Out of habit, I checked our gauges. We’d used up a lot of air. We both had maybe ten minutes left, tops.
There are times when it’s just plain best not to stick around to see what happens. This was one of those times and we both knew it. I had the distinct feeling that the trailer was getting ready to collapse and seal us in or maybe fall over the edge and drag us to the bottom with it. Maybe both, I couldn’t tell, but I didn’t want to wait around to find out. But this was like a scene out of one of those movies where two guys are duking it out on a truck that’s hanging half off a bridge. Every time they move, the truck slips a little further over. You know the ones I mean; you’ve seen every one of them. That was our problem. Every time we shifted positions, the trailer squealed and shuddered a little more, and I had the awful, nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that we were just totally screwed.
Jon didn’t just sense that we were in a lot of trouble; his eyes said that he was absolutely sure of it. He had those crazy eyes now and looked like he was thinking about doing something stupid. No, thinking isn’t the right word. Thought had nothing to do with it. He was near panic and instinct was all that was left at that point. I didn’t have long to wait.
The trailer moaned again and shook, not violently but enough to let us know we were in a lot of trouble. The movement kicked up a faint cloud of sediment around us. Jon tried to bolt from underneath of me to get to the door, almost catching me in the groin as he did. The trailer didn’t care for this at all and shuddered more noticeably as I pulled Jon back by his straps, grabbing him by the chin, forcing him to look me in the eyes. I held up my hand and shook it at him sternly, telling him to stop jerking around. He stopped, but I could feel his heart pounding against my restraining hand.
Resting on our sides, I looked around for any convenient means of escape. The windows were way too small for either of us to crawl through. There was only the door we came in through and it seemed like it was a mile away. Every time we tried to move, the trailer shuddered a bit more. I had to fight back my own panic. My heart felt like it was pounding at the back of my throat so hard that I almost couldn’t breathe, but I also knew if I lost it completely, we were dead meat. I searched the room frantically. I couldn’t think of anything to do, and I closed my eyes for a second or two, hoping something would come to me. It was then, for the very first time, that I saw him in my mind’s eye.
There’s no other way to describe it except seeing without seeing. It was like looking at a movie on the inside of my skull and despite the fact that Jon and I could be dead in a minute or two, I couldn’t take my eyes from the old man who was there in my…vision. In looking at him, I felt calmer, more focused.
He must’ve been the Native-American gentleman that Alicia spoke of as my main guide. He was, indeed, very stately looking. His hair was gray and pulled back, his face lined from spending a lifetime out in nature. It gave him great character. He was smoking a pipe. There was nothing distinctive about it, it was just a pipe. I was expecting to see him dressed in some sort of full tribal regalia as probably befitted his station, but he wasn’t. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. It looked quite plain and simple with no distinctive features. I couldn’t get a sense of his height; he was sitting next to a small fire next to the edge of a lake. But it wasn’t just a lake; it was our lake, where Jon and I were essentially trapped 40 feet down for fear of moving a muscle.
“Grandfather?” I asked silently. He said nothing but bowed courteously from the waist, acknowledging me. I was astonished at what I was experiencing but it didn’t feel unnatural to me, either.
“Grandfather, can you please help us get out of here?” I asked him as politely as I could.
Grandfather said nothing for a second or two. Actually, he didn’t say anything at all. I watched as he took a long draw off of his pipe and gently blew a thick cloud of smoke into the air in front of his face, then shaped it with his hands as it hovered there, shaping it into a sort of mushroom, which then drifted up and out of sight. Then he smiled and the vision faded.
I snapped out of it when I felt Jon tugging hard at my arm. I looked down at him gesturing at me, pleading for me to do something. Then it hit me what Grandfather had meant and I could’ve kicked my self for being so damn stupid.
Let that be a lesson, I told myself. Worry and panic can kill rational thought in a heartbeat. It didn’t dawn on me that all we had to do was inflate our BC’s just enough to lift us off the floor and then ease our way out.
I held up my hand, telling Jon to hold tight and watch. I pressed the button on my valve, letting just the barest amount of air into my BC. Nothing. I pressed it again, holding it a bit longer until I could just feel myself start to lift off of Jon and hover a few inches above him. I gave it a hint more air to make sure I was clear and started to slowly paddle out of the room and towards the door using only my hands, making sure to disturb the water as little as possible. I turned and motioned for Jon to do exactly as I had done.
His hands were shaking; he was terrified. I went back to him and stroked his shoulder, trying to calm him enough to get this done while we still had air left. I took hold of his valve and gave his BC a couple of quick bursts, then another couple until he finally started to lift off the floor.
I held up my hands to him and grunted, trying to make him understand to use his hands only. We couldn’t risk even using our fins in case the water pressure from their wake might disturb the trailer more and bring it down on us. He nodded and gave me a weak ‘OK’ sign.
I turned back and again started gently paddling towards the door. I looked around to make sure Jon was with me as the trailer creaked again. He was right behind me and I think he was being even more cautious about his strokes than I was. His eyes were still as big as saucers. I was pretty sure that both our wetsuits were going to need a good hosing down if, no, not if, when we got out of this mess.
It seemed like it was taking forever, but the inches we crossed towards the door soon became feet. The trailer creaked and moaned again, letting us know it was still there, warning us two mice that the trap might have a hair trigger. Finally, we got to the door. I hovered to the side, signaling Jon to go through first and to give his BC a little more air to help him up. His tank banged against the door jamb as he did and the trailer shook. I thought ‘Oh, fuckin’-A’, to get this close and have the thing come down on me. But it didn’t and I crossed myself, falling back on an old habit from childhood. Like I remember my father saying about his experiences in the army, ‘There’re no atheists in foxholes’. Now I knew exactly, positively, without doubt, what he meant.
I positioned myself right under the opening and let some more air into my BC, then more until I began to drift up through it, taking care to keep my hands away from the sides, afraid that the trailer might try to take me before I got away.
I saw Jon a few feet away as I emerged. When my legs were finally clear, I gave the side of the trailer a kick, as hard as I could. I know it was stupid, but I guess I just wanted to taunt the thing that’d failed to take me and my boyfriend. It trembled and moaned angrily again, the old nails in her screamed but didn’t yield. Jon just watched; he didn’t want to get near it at all.
I heaved a sigh of relief and looked back to Jon, who was tapping his gauge. I looked at mine; I was almost dry and knew he had to be nearly the same. He pointed to the surface and I nodded back but motioned for him to take it slow. After getting past this little close call, I didn’t want to risk an embolism.
We broke the surface a couple of feet apart and inflated our BC’s with what little was left of our air. We paddled to each other and embraced; Jon wrapped his trembling legs around mine and squeezed hard, we both did.
“I love you,” I whispered.
“I love you, too, Brad.”
We stayed there for a few minutes, holding, almost clawing, each of us just listening to the other breathe. We desperately needed to reassure each other that we were still alive, that we were breathing air and everything was okay.
“I want to feel you in me, now,” he whispered hoarsely.
I kissed him on the side of his neck and sighed as I nestled my head there. There was greater clarity now. I could read what he was thinking and feeling and I knew what I had to do.
“Baby, I want to feel you, too,” I began. “But there’s something we need to do first.”

“Fuck that; I’ve had enough!” he said, gesturing as though he was waving off a plane coming in for a landing while I hooked up our spare tanks.
“Sorry babe, you got no choice,” I said as I watched him pace back and forth, staring at the ground and chewing that fingernail again.
“Dude, that was a little too extreme for me, you know?”
I sighed as I checked the air flow in both tanks. I went over to where he was wearing a rut in the road and pulled him to me, nose to nose.
“Jon, when you were doing the JV football thing and got the wind seriously knocked out of you for the first time…” I began softly.
“How’d you know about that?” he asked. He glared up at me like I’d been reading his diary before realizing. “You’re getting too good at this, Brad,” he muttered, dropping his eyes. “It’s not polite to peek in other people’s brains.”
“Yeah, well, anyway,” I said. “When that happened, what’d your coach do? Send you home, cryin’ to mama?”
Jon looked up again and smirked at my affront to his manhood. “Why bother telling? You already know, right?”
“Indulge me; I love the sound of your voice,” I said, giving him a quick peck on the forehead.
Jon sighed. “He put me right back in the game so I’d learn not to be afraid of getting tackled,” he said like a weary schoolboy reciting before the class.
“And that’s why we’re going back in. Right now,” I said.
Jon turned and shook his head. “I can’t,” he said.
“Yes, you can,” I replied softly. I knew I had to do this quickly. I could see Jon’s vision of his own death still lingering at the front of his mind.
I went to get his tank and held it for him to put on. Jon just turned his back and shook his head.
“Jon, you took to this like a fish,” I called to him. “You can’t let this one time ruin it for the rest...”
He just shook his head again. I didn’t know what to do and just stared at him for a moment or two. I sighed and set his tank back in the truck.
“Okay, be that way, then.” I half unzipped my wetsuit and reached in for our towels. I looped mine around my neck, balled his up and threw it at him. He snatched at it and glared at me, his lips pursed so tight I thought he’d draw blood. We stared at each other for what seemed like an hour. I eyed his familiar, powerful build and wondered whether he was going to lose it and just start wailing on me.
“C’mon,” I said. “We might as well get this stuff back to Dave’s and save the rental fees. Maybe you can return your wetsuit, too; you won’t be needing it anymore,” I said, turning to get the gear squared away. I could feel Jon’s eyes burning into my back, anger like I’ve never felt from him. “Pity, too. You really looked great in it,” I mumbled. Maybe we can get a couple of bucks for your cool dive knife on EBay, or something; we’ll have a look.” I think that was that last straw.
I heard his determined stride behind me. It was like a curtain had been drawn over his thoughts and I couldn’t get a read on whether he was going to hit me or what. I straightened up when I felt his towel hit the back of my head. Jon muscled past me and pulled his rig out of the back, shoving it at me.
“Well?” he asked irritably. “You gonna help me on with this thing or not?”
What thoughts finally came through from his mind didn’t bear repeating in polite company. I just kept my mouth shut and smiled as he hooked his arms through the straps.

We didn’t stay down long. We didn’t need to. I just wanted to get Jon underwater again to squelch any lingering fears about diving. We picked up on the path we’d deviated from and followed it down a little further.
Dave was right. It wasn’t long before we found an old broken down bus that someone had dumped here. We saw a truck, too, but it was a little farther away than I wanted to go. I was surprised but happy to see Jon take the lead by going into the bus. I could feel that he wanted to prove to me that he wasn’t a coward. That was really important to him. He didn’t have to prove anything to me, though. I was proud of him, to be with him, no matter what. Jon just needed to prove himself to Jon. I also think he was still miffed at me for insulting him back there but I knew he’d get over it; he was never one to hold a grudge.
When he emerged, I tapped my watch and signaled it was time to go. Jon nodded and started for the surface. On the way up, something touched the back of my mind, like a string pulling at me. I looked up at Jon and saw he was okay and then swam off, down in the direction of the pull.
The tugging stopped when I got to where it wanted me to be, back at the construction trailer. Actually, I should say where it had been. I swam over to the edge of the ledge where the trailer had been perched and looked down into deep, dark blue water. A chill flashed up my spine when I saw that there was no sign of it. One of the Universe’s little lessons about expecting the unexpected. I shook off the chill and joined Jon on the surface.
He was waiting for me on the surface.
“Dude, you had me worried. Where’d you get to?”
“Nowhere,” I said. “I…had to sort out something with my BC valve…sticking.”
It was a total lie but I didn’t want to tell Jon what I’d seen; well, hadn’t seen, really. It’d only upset him again and he felt like he was getting back to his old self.
We dried off, changed and got the gear stowed. Heading back up the path, we were both quiet. It definitely hadn’t been a typical male bonding experience and we were both letting it sink in. We were both also going to need some additional male bonding as soon as possible, but right then we still had things to do.
“We’ve got time before lunch,” I said, breaking the silence. “You wanna take the tanks back and get ‘em refilled or you just wanna take ‘em back.”
“Refilled,” Jon said, reclining his seat and putting his feet up on the dash. “Mama didn’t raise no quitters,” he added as he laced his fingers behind his head.
“Thought never crossed my mind,” I said, smiling.
A few more moments of silence passed before Jon spoke.
“The wetsuit makes me look hot, huh?”
“Oh, yeah,” I drawled, nodding. “If you could see how hot your ass looks in that thing, you’d want to fuck yourself.”
Jon cringed, gritting his teeth. “I think I’ll just leave that to you.”
“No prob,” I said. “Well?” I asked after a prolonged silence.
“Well, what?”
“Aren’t you gonna tell me how hot I look in mine?”
“Your what?” he said, concealing his grin.
“Yeah, okay; you’re a funny guy, you know?” I said, smiling at Jon’s little joke. He laughed and smacked me playfully across the chest with the back of his hand.
“Okay, that’s it, buddy. No lube for you tonight!” I said, giving him back a taste of his own.
“Ooowww!” he said, curling into a ball. “You’re serious?”
“As a heart attack,” I said. “Just gonna hold you down and do you dry.” I tried to say it so deadpan but I couldn’t keep from breaking up.
“I bet you’d like that, too, you perv!” Jon said, finding my laughter contagious.
“Perv?! Who wanted the video camera?”
We started our game of one-upping each other on insults. It was finally turning out to be a good day.
“Tell your brother I think I left my socks under his bed.”
“Hey, keep it civil,” Jon cautioned as his cell phone started ringing. “Now, who the hell is this?” he said as he unclipped it from his hip.
“Probably your girlfriend,” I quipped.
“Pfffft,” Jon hissed. “Probably mom checking up.”
Jon looked at the display and furrowed his eyebrows, apparently confused by what he was seeing, or maybe not seeing.
“Well? Who is it?
“Dunno,” he said, just staring at it.
“You gonna answer it or let it keep on ringin’?” I asked again. I was about to suggest that he adjust his settings to roll over to voicemail after 4 rings instead of 40 when I noticed the fine hairs on his arm getting goosebumps; same with his neck.
“I think you might want to take a look at this,” he said hoarsely, handing me the ringing phone.
I hit the brakes and pulled to the side of the gravel path when I saw that his cell wasn’t even on.


To Be Continued